How to Clean and Maintain Waterless Urinals

June 28, 2006

Since waterless urinals don't need water to operate, there are a few procedures specific to their maintenance and cleaning.

By Klaus Reichardt

A waterless urinal looks very much like a conventional urinal. Many times, all that is different is the missing flush valve or piping that normally sits above the unit (because waterless urinals, as the name implies, don’t need water to operate).

Instead, waterless systems have a vertical-trap design that incorporates a cylinder or trap filled with a thin layer of liquid sealant sitting atop the drain area of the urinal. Urine passes through the cylinder and sealant; as the cylinder fills, it flows under the barrier layer and into the waste line, where it is drained - much the same way as a conventional urinal works.

Since the urinal surface is dry, it helps inhibit bacteria growth and odor, and makes the unit easier to clean. Additionally, there are no water deposits or rust stains to build up as with a water-based urinal.

Although there are some differences depending on the manufacturer, cleaning a waterless urinal follows most of the same steps and procedures as a conventional urinal:

  • Wear gloves (and goggles) to clean any restroom fixture.
  • Remove any foreign objects in the urinal. The trap is designed to prevent larger objects from entering the drain area.
  • Do not use abrasive cleaners, towels, or brushes.
  • Mist all urinal surfaces with a neutral or all-purpose cleaner, or use a Johnny Mop with water and cleaner on all surfaces.
  • Allow for dwell time (if indicated by the chemical manufacturer).
  • Wipe clean with a soft sponge, a Johnny Mop dipped in a bucket of clean water, or a cleaning cloth.
  • Dry the surfaces with a soft cloth.
  • Do not pour excess or soiled water down the waterless urinal trap - it can flush the sealant out of the trap insert.

Sealant and Trap Replacement

In most cases, cleaning professionals are asked to handle the trap’s maintenance. Although maintenance requirements may differ depending on the product, they usually involve replenishing the liquid sealant and/or replacing the cylinder as necessary.

As the urinal is used, small amounts of the sealant will be drained into the waste line and need to be replenished (usually after 1,500 uses). In a typical school, for example, this amounts to two refills per month.

To add sealant, use the “portion aid” device that comes with the sealant; this will accurately measure the 3 ounces of sealant needed, which is poured directly into the cylinder.

The cylinder on some waterless urinals lasts several months and may only need to be changed 2 to 4 times per year. To replace the cylinder:

  • Use the metal tool provided by the manufacturer to remove the trap.
  • Insert it into the trap, gently pulling it out using a back-and-forth motion.
  • Drain any excess liquids from the cylinder down the drain; discard in an appropriate manner.
  • With the trap removed, pour a bucket of (preferably) hot water down the drain to flush any sediment in the line.
  • Insert a new trap, add about 12 ounces of water, and fill with 3 ounces of sealant.
  • For some manufacturers, the trap cannot be replaced and the trap needs to be taken apart and cleaned.

Klaus Reichardt is managing partner at Waterless Co., Vista, CA.

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